Sunday, July 20, 2008

A to the Q: Author-Illustrator Info

A to the Q is an ongoing series of posts in which I answer questions I've received from blog readers, workshop students, and others about writing and navigating the waters of children's publishing. My aim is to share what I know and spark your search for even more information.

Q: How would I go about being both author and illustrator?

A: As you know, I am not an illustrator, so my ability to help on this one is limited. But here are my two cents regarding things that might help you investigate the possibility:

(1) Look for a copy of the annual Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator's Markets at your library or bookstore. It always features articles on exactly this topic. When you’re just getting started, this type of resource can answer tons of questions for you. Older editions can be just as valuable as the current one.

(2) I strongly recommend seeing whether there’s an SCBWI chapter in your area. Consider joining the national organization as a first step — that will give you access to local/regional/national conferences and meetings, the various SCBWI publications, their online discussion forum, and so on. SCBWI conferences are always invaluable, even (or perhaps especially so) when you're starting out. From there you can scope out your local or regional chapter and make further decisions about whether it's a good fit. Things to consider: Are there regular meetings and events that focus on topics of interest to you? Does it seem to present good networking opportunities? Is there a way for you to get involved and help the chapter address more of your needs?

Really, the process of getting work as an author-illustrator is the same as getting work as an author only. But you will need to pitch your work in a different way. Depending on the publisher, you might need an agent, you might be required to submit a complete manuscript on your own (the ms would usually consist of the text plus rough art), you might start by submitting writing or art samples alone, or you might need to follow some other rules as laid out in the submission policies.

Now for some useful resources. Below is a link to a handy guide from the Children’s Book Council. You can view it online or download the PDF. It provides a list of publishers with info about what types of submissions they accept (specific to artists and artist-writers) and how they want to receive them.

Getting Your Book Published: An Illustrator's Guide

And, for fun, here's a list of author-illustrator sites/blogs to explore and enjoy:

Dav Pilkey's Extra-Crunchy Webstite O' Fun
The site title says it all.

David Wiesner — The Art of Visual Storytelling
Wiesner's award-winning style is something to behold, whether he's writing, illustrating, or creating a stunning wordless picture book (which absolutely counts as both writing and illustrating). Take a peek at his works, creative process, and words of wisdom.

Denise Fleming
Get some ideas of your own by seeing how this acclaimed author-illustrator works and what all she has accomplished.

Devas T. Rants and Raves
Don Tate II's blog chronicles his day-to-day life as a long-time illustrator, as well as his more recent journey as an author.

Kevin Henkes
Caldecott-winning Kevin Henkes seems to do it all — he writes for kids of all ages, and he illustrates some of the most memorable picture books of our time.

Lane Smith Books
There's no blog here, but any aspiring author-illustrator can enjoy looking through Lane Smith's catalog of notable books, checking out the rough sketches he's posted, and just hoping for some of his great success to inspire — or rub off!

Lois Lowry
This Newbery winner's site offers a glimpse at all of her groundbreaking books, some of which she has illustrated. Follow the link to her blog, too, for additional insight into what makes this treasured figure of children's literature tick.

Lundentoons Blog
Illustrator-writer-cartoonist Einar Lunden shares his thoughts about writing and illustrating.

Mo Willems Doodles
This is a fun, informative blog by the talented author-illustrator-cartoonist Mo Willems.

Tomie de Paola
Click around the site to see de Paola discuss his writing and illustrating processes, read a great FAQ section, and more.

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